Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sacrament February 28, 2009

Sisters and Brothers, after Valentine's Day we who use chocolate as a part of our journey toward the Divine, can find a lot of good sales. This is the time to look beyond the big chocolate makers and to more curious and unique chocolates at much lower prices. Here you see two boxes of "Too Good Gourmet" Shortbread Heart Cookies, one in dark chocolate and the other in white chocolate, the two extremes perhaps of our potential sacraments.

The boxes themselves are rather sturdy, and since chocolate must be cultivated we should consider the packaging when we purchase. Landfills and garbage dumps are hardly good soil in which to grow the cocoa bean. These boxes I will save and reuse in the future, for not only do I buy chocolates, I also make them, and think these could be nice gift boxes.

Do not be mislead by the title of "heart cookies" on the boxes. No, the cookies themselves are not heart-shaped, but only have tiny heart-shaped decorations on them. A review of the Nutrition Facts label reveal no transfats but about 2g saturated fat per cookie. There are also several allergy warnings for wheat, soy and dairy with the possibility of eggs, peanuts and tree nuts as well. Side note: How can they not know what is in their cookies?

The boxes are merely sealed by two strips of tape that you will need scissors to open, and they are encased further by thick plastic bags. When you open the bag the smell of the shortbread cookies and the sugar decorations overwhelms the aroma of the dark or white chocolates. Yet we should not let the pleasant but non-chocolate scent dissuade us from trying them.

I laid two of each type of cookie on the sacred dish to show you what they look like. They are 1.5 inches in diameter, and the decorative hearts fall off easily. These are normally almost $7 for the 8oz box, but by waiting until after Valentine's Day I got each for under $1!

I have not had any other food now for over 3 hours. My palate is clear; my focus turns first to the white chocolate.

The white chocolate is waxy in texture, and it melts a bit at my touch. The red decorative hearts threaten to fall, tempting me to pop an entire cookie into my mouth. I resist, for I know that in order to fully experience it I must take it in small quantities. The decorative hearts snap between my teeth, and the cookie crunches as I take a bite. The white chocolate melts on my lips and tongue, mixing its rather bland taste with the sweetness and butteryness of the cookie. A second bite reveals that the cookie is a bit chewy, not what I was expecting from shortbread in a box.

Now I shall reveal the nature of the white chocolate cookie when I give into temptation and put the entire morsel into my mouth. It is a mouthful, and soon the chocolate is melting into my mouth, slowly exposing the cookie to my tastebuds. Your Chocolate Priestess is not perfect; she, too, is growing in her spirituality, and thus I cave in and crunch the cookie, not allowing it to turn soggy after about a minute of the melting chocolate.

Clensing my palate with water and a few minutes wait, I turn to the dark chocolate version. The most difficult flavors to rid myself of before this next potential sacrament are those of the cookie and the sugar heart decorations, for I personally find that white chocolate is bland and leaves no aftertaste.

The dark chocolate also feels waxy to my fingers, but it melts much more quickly, soon threatening to cover my fingertips with the potent substance. I resist again the desire to put the entire cookie in my mouth, determined first to taste it in two bites before seeing if there is a difference in experience with a whole cookie.

The sugar decorations snap again, but the cookie itself is softer and barely makes a sound. Surprisingly the dark chocolate, which seemed to have no scent, now floods my nostrils with its delightful slight bitterness as it melts on my tongue. My eyes flutter a bit as the smell and taste rush to my head, urging a slight sigh from my lips. The second bite is as good as the first.

Exposing my senses to the entire dark chocolate shortbread cookie at once reveals its nature. Sadly the chocolate melts quickly, leaving only the cookie behind, which seems dull compared to the thrill from the ecstastic substance. While the white chocolate cookie seemed more chocolatey when consumed in whole, this is not the case for the dark. Thus if our goal is to commune with the Divine via chocolate, we must use these variations of the same offering in different ways.

Now I am a bit light-headed and must calm my senses again and allow myself to drift a bit in the flow of chocolate through my body.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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